Southern Baptists Take Sides Ahead of Nashville Meeting

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A recent call to investigate the Executive Committee over abuse responses is the latest issue up for debate. Opposing factions in the SBC both say its future is at stake.

In the two years since Southern Baptists gathered as a convention, tensions around racial and political issues escalated. But just a couple weeks before their upcoming annual meeting in Nashville, another topic has taken center stage, as new documentation alleges high-ranking leaders in the denomination resisted its efforts to address abuse.

Some Southern Baptists are calling for an investigation of the Executive Committee (EC) after a series of leaked material has suggested that its leaders—one of whom is the conservative pick in the current race for SBC president—worked to hamper efforts to hear from victims in their own terms and to investigate churches with credible claims of cover-up.

“What those docs did kind of reoriented and shifted what the conversations and priorities were going to be going into the convention this year,” said Tennessee pastor Grant Gaines, who along with North Carolina pastor Ronnie Parrott announced plans to make a motion at the June 15–16 meeting calling for a third-party investigation into the EC.

Over 16,000 Southern Baptists have registered to come, double the attendance at the 2019 conference and the largest crowd at an annual meeting in a quarter century. And outsiders are paying attention to what happens among the country’s biggest Protestant denomination because many of the issues at hand reflect broader divisions in the church and the US at large.

The recent revelations shared online could cause some Southern Baptists to scrutinize the place of prominent figures in SBC leadership and demand greater accountability for the body tasked with handling denominational business outside the convention. Or, as the newly formed Conservative Baptist Network brings …

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